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How to Experience a 50% Drop in CPA with the Right Keyword Strategy

These newfound strategies greatly increased my profitability from paid search at a time when I was ready to give up on the medium. There really is no substitute for quality analytics and sound search marketing strategies.

Henry Morgan

PENSRUS Corporation

The Company

PENSRUS Corporation is a leading provider of personalized and logo-branded pens, pencils and other promotional products.

The Challenge

Most of PENSRUS growth in the early to mid 2000’s was attributed to sales generated from Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing. Early on, due to lack of competition in PPC and simpler bid changes and account management, it was fairly easy for PENSRUS to manage the optimization of their campaigns in-house.

However, with increasingly competitive pressures on bid prices and the added complexity of ad testing, dayparting and geo-targeting, it was becoming more difficult for PENSRUS to do an effective job of keeping its PPC campaigns profitable

PENSRUS Corporation hired Engine Ready in late 2005 to completely overhaul its existing search marketing campaigns and optimize the accounts to return the channel to a profitable ROI. At the time, the average cost per acquisition (CPA) was just under $150.

The Solution

One of the largest areas of opportunity Engine Ready quickly identified was improving the keyword strategy. Many of the PENSRUS keywords were broad match, which tends to be more expensive and potentially less targeted. In addition, there were no negative keywords in either Google or Yahoo.

The most comprehensive source of information for directing Engine Ready’s keyword strategy was the web analytics data available from the PENSRUS site activity. PENSRUS was using a marketing web analytics application called Conversion Analyst™ to track click costs and online revenues by campaign source and keyword.

One of the many reports available, the “Search Phrases” report shows the exact phrases visitors searched that displayed the PENSRUS paid ad.

The Result

Reviewing the Search Phrases report revealed specific keyword phrases that were consistently used by PENSRUS visitors that led to orders. However these visits and orders came from the broad match term “pens”, which was much more expensive than the exact match phrases used by visitors. Based on this information, Engine Ready modified the paid search accounts by setting up discrete ad groups with targeted exact match keyword phrases and more specific ads.

Additionally, PENSRUS had been bidding broad match on the phrase “personalized pens” with the following ad copy:

Quality Pens at Great Prices
Browse our large selection of pens.
Perfect for personalization.

The Search Phrases report in Conversion Analyst™ revealed yet another important finding: Because of the general nature of the ad and lack of negative keywords, PENSRUS was receiving visits to their site and paying for clicks from keyword searches that had nothing to do with their products, such as “personalized dog pens” and “personalized play pens”.

Armed with this information Engine Ready added negative keywords, such as “dog” and “play” to ensure that the PENSRUS ads would show only for relevant searches, saving more PPC costs.

Within 3 months after Engine Ready implemented exact match and negative keyword strategies, cost per acquisition (CPA) dropped almost 50% from $150 to $80.

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